PRINCIPLES, OR JUST ADVICE?

You may wonder at the topics that appear on this blog.  What do they have to do with parenting?  When you talk about American, are you being political?  When you say Christian, are you discriminating?  The topics you write about don’t seem to have anything in common with the nitty gritty of where I live with my children!

I need help with bedtimes, food, manners, tantrums, whining, squabbling.  I need answers for peer pressure, cell phone rules, safety for my teens. “Where is that kind of advice?” you may be saying.  And that’s the point.  Many people want advice . . . not so many want principles.

What I am writing about now in the blog, the topics I’ve chosen, are foundational.  We’re talking about principles which are the cause, source, or origin of things.  The kind of things mentioned above are the issues, needing practical advice, not hard and fast rules which only have application to that one problem with those exact parameters.  Principles are truths which stand.  Practical application of them can change according to the circumstances, age groups, temperaments, personalities, living situations . . . any number of things which can affect the outcome.  If I give you an answer for a 4 year old having a temper tantrum that works, will it work for a 14 year old?  The answer is, No, it probably won’t!  But, if I give you a principle from which to work, it will apply to a 4 year old, a 14 year old, and a 40 year old.  Why?  Because it’s a principle.

The first principle of parenting is given to us in Deuteronomy 6: 5-9:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  And these words which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: and you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.  And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  And you shall write them upon the posts of your house, and on your gates

These words give the God-given method and progression and even content of teaching our children anything.

  1. The first sentence sets the order squarely upon loving the Lord our God with our entire heart, soul and strength.  This guarantees we will not set ourselves up as idols, nor will we make idols out of our children, but we will have a godly perspective on both.
  2. The words God commanded us must be in our own hearts and minds — if not, we must take the necessary steps to restore them.
  3. We are to teach diligently.  That means with painstaking effort.
  4. We are to talk of them naturally as we go about our daily lives, from the time we rise up to the time we lie down at night.
  5. We are to relate these commands of God to all of life, modeling for our children undivided love for God in every action, word or deed, in our business practices, the friends we have, the entertainment we embrace.
  6.  And finally, we are to use the words themselves or symbols of them as reminders of His commands to us, including writing them and posting them in our homes and upon our gates, that we might be faithful to walk in our covenant with Him.

The words must be in our hearts first!! We cannot give what we do not have.  We can parrot information.  We can behave out of the way we have been taught.  But we cannot give what we do not have ourselves.

However, we can restore it to ourselves at the same time that we teach it to our children.  That’s why I talked about re-parenting.  Not all of us grew up in households where the Scriptures were taught and lived out and discussed at the dinner table.  Not all of us grew up with parents who prayed with us, or spent the time to delve into our hearts to see what was there, or who shared the knowledge of what God has done in our nation and in our family history.  Not all of us had family discussions around the dinner table of ideas and principles.  Not all of us had the example of debating ideas and being guided and mentored in biblical thinking and reasoning.

Therefore, we don’t have that to give our children as we sit in our homes, and walk by the way, and lie down at night, and when we rise up in the mornings.  But we sure can begin the process of restoring it to us as we give it to our children.  That’s what principles are about . . . the same cause, source, or origin for every application, just different applications.

The principle of faithful stewardship applies to the 4 year old with his toys, the 14 year old with his cell phone, and the 40 year old with his budget. The principle of Christian self-government — the ability to govern or control oneself — regardless of who is watching or not watching, is the same whether it’s applied to a child doing his chores, his homework, a man with his business, or the President of the United States.

It’s time to restore an understanding of biblical principles and their application to all walks of life.  Yes, these words which God has commanded us must be in our own hearts first, and if they’re not, we can correct that by restoring them to our own hearts and minds while we’re teaching them to our children.

We cannot give what we do not have . . .

 

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